25 April 2008

SWAP Pics are Up!!

Julie has posted the SWAP pictures and commentaries on her website, Timmel Fabrics. Go check out all the wonderful entries if you have a few moments to spare.

This year is bigger than ever. A grand total of 37 SWAPs have been submitted. It is amazing to see all the different fabrics, patterns and styles displayed.

A big thank you to Julie for once again taking on this contest and all the planning and work that goes along with it.

24 April 2008

SWAP Combos - Part 3

In my last two posts, I posted pictures of all the combos possible with the suiting pieces from my SWAP. Today, I want to finish up my SWAP photos with a few pictures of the dresses and the coat. I realize these aren't really combos, but I really love these pieces and I don't want to hurt their feelings by leaving them out of the fun!

Chocolate brown wool crepe dress (M7888)

Yellow silk dupioni dress (S7990)

Beige wool crepe coat (V5630)

That about wraps up the SWAP 2008 photo shoot. I am really pleased with how it all turned out. Now, over the next few weeks, I will be planning out my spring and summer wardrobe - I can't wait!

23 April 2008

SWAP Combos - Part 2

In my last post, I showed several of the combinations that could be made with my SWAP suiting separates. Today, I want to show you some more. However, I first want to say a big, fat thank-you to everyone that has stopped by and left such wonderful comments. Since I don't have any "real life" sewing compatriots, I really cherish all my cyber buddies (both old friends and new acquaintances).

Without further ado, here are all the possibilities with the multi-coloured tweed top:

Multi-coloured tweed top (S3108) + multi-coloured tweed skirt (V5521 -wardrobe pattern)

Multi-coloured tweed top (S3108) + green herringbone skirt (B4105)

Multi-coloured tweed top (S3108) + sand wool crepe skirt (V1050)

Multi-coloured tweed top (S3108) + terracotta skirt (V5521 - wardrobe pattern)

And here are all the possibilities with the terracotta wool top:

Terracotta wool top (V5521 - wardrobe pattern) + terracotta skirt (V5521 - wardrobe pattern)

Terracotta wool top (V5521 - wardrobe pattern) + sand wool crepe skirt (V1050)

Terracotta wool top (V5521 - wardrobe pattern) + green herringbone skirt (B4105)

Terracotta wool top (V5521 - wardrobe pattern) + multi-coloured tweed skirt (V5521 -wardrobe pattern)

Tomorrow: A few views of the dresses and the coat.

22 April 2008

SWAP Combos - Part 1

Over the next few days, I want to finish up my SWAP 2008 posts with pictures of the combinations that are possible using the different garments.

Today, I will start with the all the combos based the sand wool crepe top:

Sand wool crepe top (V1050) + sand wool crepe skirt (V1050) + beige wool crepe coat (V5630)
This picture cracks me up. I guess I must be daydreaming about all the possible SWAP combos I can create with my new wardrobe!

Sand wool crepe top (V1050) + green herringbone wool skirt (B4105)

Sand wool crepe top (V1050) + multi-coloured tweed skirt (V5521 - wardrobe pattern)

Sand wool crepe top (V1050) + terracotta wool skirt (V5521 - wardrobe pattern)

Next up, all the combinations with the green herringbone top:

Green herringbone top (B4105) + green herringbone skirt (B4105)

Green herringbone top (B4105) + sand wool crepe skirt (V1050)

Green herringbone top (B4105) + multi-coloured tweed skirt (V5521 - wardrobe pattern)

Green herringbone top (B4105) + terracotta skirt (V5521 - wardrobe pattern)

Tomorrow: All the combos with the multi-coloured tweed top and the terracotta top.

20 April 2008

Coat of Charms

Jacqueline Kennedy wore this coat to her husband's inauguration ceremony on January 20, 1961. The coat was created in wool melton by Oleg Cassini. The coat was accessorized with a sable muff (to match the collar) to ensure that Jackie was warm enough on the cold January day.

Since I loved the lines and the colour of this coat, it was a no-brainer to include a garment inspired by it. As extra incentive, I was in need of a formal coat for layering over evening wear during the cooler weather months.

So, I was hoping to find a coat pattern that had similar lines. I searched eBay and several vintage pattern sites and came up empty. Then one day as I was flipping through my vintage patterns, I came across Vogue 5630. Sometimes exactly what you want really is right beneath your nose! Although there is no copyright date on the pattern, one quick glance at the drawing of the largest woman on the envelope front suggests that this pattern was meant to be a JK coat knockoff. The major style lines are the same and she is even holding a fur muff.

I debated about using this pattern to create a line for line replica of the JK coat, but in the end decided against it. I chose to use the pattern's more subtle pockets, rather than the large patch pockets - I try not to focus attention on my hip region. Also, I went with full length sleeves, rather than the 3/4 sleeves on the JK coat. I am not likely to wear long gloves and I want to stay warm, so longer sleeves it was! In the end, I used view A for the body and view C for the sleeves.

I made my coat of sand wool crepe, purchased from Fabric Mart during their wool blow-out a while back. The entire coat is interlined in a thick cotton flannel, to provide warmth and stability. The coat is lined in a stretch polyester charmeuse in a gorgeous copper colour.

Although the coat is classic and simple, there are a few features that set it apart. The front of the coat is topstitched along the princess seams, in which in-seam pockets are included (photo to the left). The closures in front consists of four bound buttonholes and four large self fabric covered buttons (photo to the right), which are backed by smaller buttons on the inside to make them more stable. The hems and lining were completed entirely by hand to keep the front clean and stitch free.

I can honestly say that I adore this coat. It is certainly one of my favourite pieces that I made for this year's SWAP, maybe one of my favourite pieces ever. I knew I was smitten as I was sewing it and the moment it was finished and I put it on, it was love! As I have mentioned before, I prefer a garment that has a certain weight to it - it just makes the entire piece feel luxurious.

Without further ado, here are a few shots of my coat, worn over some of my other SWAP garments:

Over the next few days, I plan on showing you a few more pictures showing several combinations that can be made using my SWAP garments. So, stay tuned...

19 April 2008

My Chanel-ish Suit - Part 2

*Rachelle asked, "Do you think you'd mind showing us the inside of the jacket?"
No problem, here's the inside of both the skirt and the jacket. The jacket lining was inserted completely by hand, as I feel it gives me more control over the placement.

As well, here is a close-up of one of the buttons (which I adore). The buttons are vintage glass with a tortoise pattern. This photo also gives you a much nicer view of the fabric. It is amazing the depth of colour that this fabric possesses.

I had forgotten to mention that the jacket was interfaced with sew-in hair canvas. The front facing, the back neck facing, the jacket hem and sleeve hems all benefited from the addition of this wonderful interfacing. It gives the jacket the perfect body and weight. I had hoped to finish off the inside of the jacket with chain, a la Chanel, but I could not find anything appropriate in any of my local stores. For future softly tailored jackets like this, I suppose I will have to turn my search to the internet. Anyone have any vendor suggestions? Marji?

18 April 2008

My Chanel-ish Suit

When I first saw this fabric on the Sawyer Brook website, it basically reached through the monitor and demanded that I own it. The name of this fabric was Cucurbits and to learn more about this name, visit Barb's Fabric Blog (the blog of the owner of Sawyer Brook).

When designing my SWAP, this fabric was chosen to be the central focus and all the other fabrics were picked based on colours found therein. In real life, the colours in this fabric are far more vivid and rich - it is one of the most beautiful wools with which I have ever worked.

Obviously, I needed an amazing pattern (or two) to showcase this exquisite fabric - something simple and classic. I decided to create a Chanel-style suit using Simplicity 3108 for the jacket and Vogue 5521 (which is my SWAP wardrobe pattern) for a slim skirt.

The Vogue 5521 slim skirt was very straightforward to sew - two darts in front, two darts in back, side zipper and a waistband. The only interesting thing about this skirt is the kick pleat. The back of the skirt is cut on a fold and a straight line of stitching, parallel to the centre back fold, creates a large pleat in the centre back which extends down to the hem. This pleat is pressed to one side and stitched down 8 inches above the hem. Below this, the pleat releases to form the kick pleat.

The Simplicity 3108 jacket is wonderful. It has a round neckline, 7/8 length kimono sleeves, buttons down the front and two decorative pocket flaps. I love the cropped length of this jacket - it sits at the perfect spot at the top of the hip. The jacket fits exceptionally well due to the shoulder and elbow darts. It is these small shaping darts that set the vintage patterns apart from the modern - it is unfortunate that most of today's patterns have so few of these useful dressmaker details.

Both the jacket and the skirt are lined in chocolate silk charmeuse, which finishes off the inside in a luxurious manner. The buttons on the jacket are gorgeous. They are vintage glass shank buttons that have a tortoise pattern. They add the perfect finishing touch to this jacket. I have included pictures of this suit in action:

I also have a couple of questions to answer.
*Nancy K. said, "Do you end up having to do a lot of grading on these vintage patterns or do you find them in your size? I'd also like to know when you sleep, you accomplish so much I am just in awe!"
Firstly, I actually do sleep so I have to find time for sewing elsewhere :) What helps is that I don't watch much TV and I don't have kids for which to care. As well, since I am a teacher, I am usually done work each day at 2:30 (except for afternoons when I have meetings or when I am swamped with marking or lesson planning) and I have two months off in the summer. All of this adds up to free time for sewing!!
In terms of vintage pattern sizing, I don't usually buy patterns unless they are in my size (which varies depending on the era, but I find just about anything with a bust of 31.5" works for me). I tend to be too lazy to do a lot of grading up or down.

*sklong@pa.net said, "I have a question about lining a skirt. The skirt pattern doesn't call for a lining; it's a very simple nearly straight skirt - just curved a bit at the hip - with an elastic waistband. Will I use the skirt pattern to make a lining for it? will the lining be attached just under the waist band? Or Should I treat the lining and skirt as one and make the casing for the elastic with the lining there also?"
You definitely can use the skirt pattern to make a lining for a straight skirt. Check out this helpful webpage (this is not for an elastic waist skirt but the principle is the same). Of course this assumes that there is a separate waistband into which the elastic is inserted.
However, if the elastic is inserted into a casing made by folding down the top of the skirt, you can handle it two different ways. If you are not worried about the waist being too bulky, construct the skirt and the lining, place them wrong sides together and turn down the top of the skirt and the lining together to form the casing for the elastic. Alternatively, remove all but 5/8" of the casing allowance from the top of the skirt and the matching lining. Sew the skirt and lining right sides together, along the top, with a 5/8" seam allowance. Turn skirt right side out and press along the top being sure that the lining does not show on the right side. Sew around the top of the skirt at 1" (if the elastic is 1") to create a casing that consists of the skirt fabric on the outside and the lining fabric on the inside. Be sure to leave a bit open to insert elastic and then finish sewing. I hope this makes sense.

Up next, the coat...

16 April 2008

SWAP 2008 - Ode to Camelot

Although you haven't seen all of my SWAP garments individually, I wanted to post a summary for Carolyn, so she doesn't explode!!

First off, here is the final version of my storyboard. A few things changed from the original. A couple of fabrics were switched out and a pattern was changed. You can click on the image to make it larger.

This year's SWAP was difficult for me, but I'm glad I persevered, as I really love my new wardrobe. Each year SWAP challenges me to do more, to try new techniques, to just all around up my sewing game. I try to create a wardrobe, that if I can actually pull it off in the allotted time, I will be proud to call my own. I guess I use SWAP as an opportunity to push my abilities and excel beyond my comfort zone.

This year, I decided to create a wardrobe of suiting separates. This was a difficult venture, as I wanted to create four suits that would not only stand on their own but would also be completely interchangeable. Creating a plan that took into account the style lines of the garment and the fabric choices, so that everything played nice together, was tough! Although I had to invest many hours into finding four coordinating fabrics and the patterns that worked well together, I am pleased with the final result. Each piece actually does look good with every other piece. I am also pleased with the two dresses and the coat that rounded out my SWAP plan. The dresses are flattering and the colours are smashing. The coat I absolutely adore - it is one of my favourite garments that I have ever sewn.

Each year, as I am working on my SWAP, I am surprised by some revelation related to my sewing personality. This year that revelation involved embellishment. All of my SWAP garments are clean, simple garments, with very little in the way of overt details. All the special tweaks, like bound buttonholes, silk linings and hand tailoring, are subtle and not immediately obvious to the casual observer. I have to admit this caused me some consternation, as I found myself desperately wanting to add some ribbon here or a bit of beading there. However, I really wanted this wardrobe to be true to the Jackie Kennedy inspiration and she was not one for extra frou-frou. Up until this point in my sewing career, I liked to add the occasional little something to set my garment apart from the norm, but I had never considered myself to be a big ornamentation kind of gal. Although, in the end I am glad I resisted the urge to "gild the lily" as I love my SWAP pieces as they are, I now feel compelled to embellish the heck out of something!

Anyhow, without further ado, here is the compilation of all my SWAP garments:
Next post, I want to show you the 'Chanel-ish' tweed suit, as these pieces are made from the most amazing fabric.

15 April 2008

Paterson Pattern - Part 2

In the last post, I showed you the Vogue 1050 skirt. The top that is included in this pattern has a very interesting sleeve and bodice treatment. Take a look at the envelope pictures below. In the front, the sleeve is cut in one with the bodice. In the back and under the arm, a separate sleeve piece is set in. In terms of the bodice, the back bodice pieces wrap from the back, under the arm and to the front. The back has a centred zipper, which allows the wearer to get in and out of the blouse.

A look at the section of the instructions describing the construction of the sleeve and bodice is worth a gander.

The bodice is quite comfortable due to this unique construction - it fits fairly close to the body in front, but hangs longer and blouses out in the back. The bodice is also shorter in the front, which is good as the skirt has gathers along the waistband in front, so there is no top volume where there is already skirt volume. This is a very well thought out design.

The top, like the skirt was constructed with a sand coloured silk charmeuse underlining. The underlining gives the top just enough extra oomph to make it feel solid and not flimsy. I find that well made garments tend to have a certain weight to them that sets them apart from cheap RTW trash. I truly believe that the success of a garment starts with the inside - the underlining and the interfacing provides a foundation from which the garment hangs and it is this foundation which can make or break a piece.

Here is a picture of me wearing both the skirt and the top. As you can see, I'm channeling my inner Jackie Kennedy with the pearls and the sunglasses. All I need is a pillbox hat and a luncheon to attend!

When I'm wearing this outfit, I feel so proper and lady-like. A while back, in a fashion magazine, they were touting the return of structured dressing. Man, I hope it's true! I love this tailored, put-together, classic look. I just hope it doesn't make me look like an old fuddy-duddy!

Last, but not least, Carolyn, I'm there for ya, baby! I am almost done the composite photo showing all eleven SWAP garments. I will post it as soon as it's ready to go...

13 April 2008

Paterson Pattern - Part 1

Prior to purchasing this vintage pattern, I had never heard the name Ronald Paterson. I decided to do some investigative work and after a bit of digging, I found this. Apparently, he was a Scottish born designer, who headed a fashion house in London from 1950 to 1970. After this period, he worked as a costume designer in movies until his retirement. The examples of his work and the vintage patterns that were designed by him are gorgeous. I will certainly be looking for more patterns by Ronald Paterson.

As part of my SWAP, I wanted a top and skirt that had the same feel as this outfit worn by Jacqueline Kennedy to her husband's inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1961. This outfit was fashioned using beige wool crepe by Oleg Cassini. (This picture is from "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years", which is an exceptional resource for JK fans.)

Originally, I planned on using a sand coloured wool gabardine. However, as the SWAP deadline began to loom, I decided to switch to a sand coloured wool crepe, purchased during the wool blowout at Fabric Mart earlier this year. I figured I would do a true homage to the original inspiration garments, while at the same time making my life easier. Wool crepe is a much more forgiving fabric to sew than wool gabardine - with limited time this seemed like a wise substitution. I could not be happier that I decided to do this. My muslin for this outfit was done using wool gabardine and it just does not hang as nicely as the SWAP pieces done in wool crepe.

Both pieces are underlined in a cream coloured silk charmeuse, also from Fabric Mart. This underlining gives the pieces a wonderful weight and such a luxurious finish on the inside. Below is the outside of the skirt, which is basically a straight skirt. However, the side seams are shifted to the front side hip and topstitched (which can be seen in the small photo to the right) and there is a gathered section over the abdomen area. The back is shaped through the use of four darts (two on each side) - one set of darts acts as faux side seams. The skirt calls for a lapped zipper in back and I replaced it with an invisible zipper, for a smoother line.

On the inside you can see the silk underlining, to which the hem is attached to keep the hem area on the outside stitch free. The underlining was serged to the wool crepe in the beginning and the the two fabrics were then treated as one for the construction.

I had some problems with the waistband as the instructions called for belting. My local fabric stores do not carry this notion, so I improvised (if anyone has any internet leads on belting, I'd appreciate a heads up). The waistband was instead cut double and constructed as is typical.

Finally, a few questions.
*Marji, in reference to this post, asked, "Did you reduce any of the fullness or dart the batiste or did you gather it one-to-one with the silk?"
I just gathered it one to one with the silk. Both the batiste and the silk are so lightweight that the excess bulk at the waist is really not a problem.

*Carolyn, referring to this post, asked, "Ummm, my fabric came in and you are going to love these pieces! Did you get yours yet?"
Nope, it usually takes 1 to 4 weeks for a box of fabric to cross the border from the US to Canada. The last time I ordered from Melody, it took 1 week so I'm hoping the fabric gods are with me again and I'll have a quick delivery!

*Yesterday, Carolyn also wrote, "I am dying over here waiting to see the finished collection...could you pleeezzzeee just throw me a bone and take a picture of all the pieces AND then go back and tell us all about them!? I've been waiting since December/January and the stress is KILLIN' me!!!!"
Whoa, I would hate to be responsible for any SWAP related deaths. I'll see what I can do.

*With respect to yesterday's post, Nancy K. asked, "How did you do the lining up without a facing? When you get a chance maybe you could do a tutorial?"
It was actually quite easy, it's really no different than when facings are present - in this case, however, the lining takes the place of the facings. The jacket shell and the lining are cut and constructed exactly the same and then they are attached, right sides together, at each front opening and around the neckline, with a 5/8" seam. The bottom is left open to facilitate turning right side out after the corners are trimmed and the seams graded. Then all that is needed is a very careful pressing to be sure that the lining rolls to the inside of the jacket. You could understitch to ensure this, but with my jacket it was unnecessary. The bottom of the lining is finished by attaching it to the jacket body by hand. If this doesn't make sense, let me know and I will try to put together something visual.
ETA for Nancy K: I always insert the sleeve lining by hand - both at the armscye and at the cuff. I find I have so much more control over the lining placement this way.

Lastly, thank you to everyone that has visited lately. I appreciate it so much that you take an interest in what I post here. I apologize if I have missed answering any question over the last while - I've had a few whirlwind weeks and admittedly I'm not as organized as usual. Things are settling back down now, so I hope to stay on top of things better.

12 April 2008

Orange You Glad You Asked? - Part 4

I AM DONE!! Obviously I am excited that I managed to finish sewing for SWAP 2008. With all that has occurred in my life lately, I had several moments when I didn't think I was going to be able to finish, especially when I managed to pick up a nasty spring cold this past week. But, I persevered and I got all 11 pieces sewn. Now, I just need to get some pictures taken and sent off to Julie of Timmel Fabrics. Now, I finally have time to blog about the garments you haven't seen yet.

I began work on this terracotta wool blend suit ages ago (see previous posts here, here and here). I adore the colour of this wool bend fabric, but man oh man, was it ever nasty to work with! There came many-a-time when I considered balling up both the skirt and the jacket and having at them with a lawnmower! This fabric was difficult to ease and getting an invisible hem was a nightmare (see here). Also, I found out the hard way that this fabric would take on an almost irremovable shine when faced with a hot iron. Aarg!!

But, never one to given in just because of a few setbacks, I managed to tame this fabric beast (with a ton of swearing tossed in for good measure). You have already seen the skirt, but I would like to show you all the jacket to match.

Here's the front of the jacket, which has bound buttonholes and handsewn patch pockets. I had a difficult time choosing just the right buttons, as many of the ones I had in my button stash just weren't right. Finally, I settled on these wine-coloured shank buttons. I was sure that the colour wouldn't work with the jacket, but when I put them together, it was like it was meant to be.

Here's the back of the jacket, showing the small kick pleat at the hip. You can also see the two piece sleeve and the back shoulder darts which I love.

The inside of the jacket was lined from edge to edge using a Anna Sui silk charmeuse that I picked up for a song from Fabric Mart. It feels so delicious and it makes putting on the jacket so easy. I may never line my clothing with anything other than silk charmeuse ever again!

The sleeves (left photo) have bound buttonholes to match the front of the jacket (right photo).